On Sounds Good, Tracy Ross speaks with singer and guitarist Lew Jetton about his new album, Palestine Blues, and this year’s Kenlake Hot August Blues Festival happening Friday and Saturday in Aurora.
Jetton has been playing with his band 61 South for more than two decades and is known both regionally and nationally as a blues musician. He says he seems to have two different personas. Locally, he’s known as the “hippy-dippy” weatherman, but outside of the regional television market, folks think of him as a full time blues player. Jetton thinks of himself as just a person who likes to play music.
Palestine Blues is bringing comparisons of Jetton to a cross between Gary Clark, Jr., and Townes Van Zandt. In response, Jetton says that the album is “electric blues but also very depressing.” The album covers a 10-year period of his life in which he and those close to him went through hard times. Jetton says it has been strange to put his private life in public view, but writing and releasing the album has proven a good way to process that decade of his life.
“There’s other people that come up to me and go, ‘Oh yeah, yeah. I’ve dealt with depression,’ or ‘I’ve had somebody in my family who dealt with opioid abuse,’ or ‘This is how I felt when I lost my job.’ It’s been therapeutic,” Jetton said.
Jetton is also running the Kenlake Hot August Blues Festival this year, which began in 1990. After two organizations backed out of organizing the event, Kenlake State Park contacted Jetton in February anxious for help making the festival happen. This year’s lineup is a mix subgenres, including bands and artists like Big Mike Griffin, Alonzo Pennington, The Beat Daddys, Rip Lee Pryor, Lew Jetton & 61 South, Al Hill, Laurie Jane & The 45’s, Ivas John, Little Boys Blue. For more information and the full lineup, visit kenlakeblues.com.